Eulogy to a Determined Lady

My wife’s mum died recently and the funeral took place last Friday. I was one of those who talked about her life at the church service, so I’m posting this today.

Nancy was my mother in law, a very English lady with all that that epitomises; that is she was very correct and polite on the surface but with a glint of feistiness underneath and a backbone of steel.  This latter amply demonstrated that first summer after her husband, Don, died. We went on holiday together and, when we got to the cottage that we had booked in the Lake District, Nancy immediately changed into her walking shoes, picked up her stick and went for a walk. On her own. She had to get on with this new life and the sooner she showed herself that she could do that, the better. That determination and her desire to always look on the bright side stayed with her until the end.  I like to think that, when it did finally leave, with her family around her in the house she and Don loved, she quietly decided to go with it.

Those of you who knew her during the 17 years she lived in Eyam will have known someone who was very active in the village and as a friend who was also a wife, mother, grand and, even, great grandmother. Yet I always felt that  her life might have had another string to it. As Gaynor has mentioned, Nancy was one of the first women to go to Oxford after the war where she studied English. Indeed, one of her oldest friends recently told me that they all expected her to have an academic career.

So, it was with great delight that I found something in one of the many notebooks in which she had written down her thoughts throughout much of her life. The subject was the satisfaction of not being tidy! Intriguing as that matter may have been for those who knew Nancy in her adult life, it was as nothing compared to the quality of the writing from what was then a mere 16 year old. Fortunately that love of the written word has passed onto her children and grand children; two of the latter of whom who are now at university studying just that subject. Something that Nancy was delighted about.

We now need to do what Nancy was good at and has, it seems, passed on to the rest of her family; that is to get on with the rest of our lives. So, with that in mind, I’d like to end with something we found recently among Nancy’s effects. It’s a quotation from St Francis de Sales

“Do not look forward to what may happen. The same everlasting father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or give you the strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

Thank you for the unfailing kindness you always showed me, Nancy, and rest in peace in the village you loved.

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